Nunavut community enters third week of boil water alert
Hamlet, GN cannot find source of coliform bacteria
The Kivalliq community of Whale Cove is entering the third week of a boil water alert, the Government of Nunavut said Aug. 14, advising residents to continue boiling any water they plan to consume.
The advisory went into effect July 24, after testing on the community’s water plant and water trucks revealed high counts of coliform.
Although the bacteria occurs naturally in plants, soil and in the digestive tracts of humans and animals, humans are at risk of contracting illness from water-borne coliform.
There have been no reports of illness from drinking water in the community of 400, says the hamlet’s senior administrative officer, Mike Richards.
But Richards said it’s been a challenge to get to the source of the bacteria.
The Department of Community and Government Services, which manages the local water plant, has “shock chlorinated” and steam washed the plant, the community’s water trucks and water tanks at many facilities in Whale Cove in efforts to disinfect them.
But the most recent round of water samples taken and tested still came back with coliform, Richards said.
“The problem we see just perplexes us,” he said. “But people seem to accept it pretty well, they’re following protocol.”
“The standards are high, as they should be,” he added. “We’ve got babies drinking this water.”
Residents have been advised to boil any water that they plan to use for a full minute before consumption. That includes water used for drinking, preparing infant formula, for cooking or washing fruits and vegetables or for brushing teeth.
Richards, who is new to the community, says he suspects the bacteria entered the water system during the early summer, when the Kivalliq saw a lot of rainfall.
As a next step, the CGS department will send divers into the water plant to try and disinfect its intake pipe, he said.